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Ann Intern Med. 2018 Dec 25. doi: 10.7326/M18-0992. [Epub ahead of print]

Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation in Patients With Heart Failure: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

Author information

Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, New York (M.K.T., J.G., W.W., S.S., J.S.K., M.A.M., N.L., A.S., A.G., S.C., S.R.D., V.Y.R.).



Atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure (HF) frequently coexist and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality risk.


To compare benefits and harms between catheter ablation and drug therapy in adult patients with AF and HF.

Data Sources:, PubMed, Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics), EBSCO Information Services, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Google Scholar, and various scientific conference sessions from 1 January 2005 to 1 October 2018.

Study Selection:

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in English that had at least 6 months of follow-up and compared clinical outcomes of catheter ablation versus drug therapy in adults with AF and HF.

Data Extraction:

2 investigators independently extracted data and assessed study quality.

Data Synthesis:

6 RCTs involving 775 patients met inclusion criteria. Compared with drug therapy, AF ablation reduced all-cause mortality (9.0% vs. 17.6%; risk ratio [RR], 0.52 [95% CI, 0.33 to 0.81) and HF hospitalizations (16.4% vs. 27.6%; RR, 0.60 [CI, 0.39 to 0.93]). Ablation improved left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) (mean difference, 6.95% [CI, 3.0% to 10.9%]), 6-minute walk test distance (mean difference, 20.93 m [CI, 5.91 to 35.95 m]), peak oxygen consumption (Vo2max) (mean difference, 3.17 mL/kg per minute [CI, 1.26 to 5.07 mL/kg per minute]), and quality of life (mean difference in Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire score, -9.02 points [CI, -19.75 to 1.71 points]). Serious adverse events were more common in the ablation groups, although differences between the ablation and drug therapy groups were not statistically significant (7.2% vs. 3.8%; RR, 1.68 [CI, 0.58 to 4.85]).


Results driven primarily by 1 clinical trial, possible patient selection bias in the ablation group, lack of patient-level data, open-label trial designs, and heterogeneous follow-up length among trials.


Catheter ablation was superior to conventional drug therapy in improving all-cause mortality, HF hospitalizations, LVEF, 6-minute walk test distance, Vo2max, and quality of life, with no statistically significant increase in serious adverse events.

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